THE Aston Martin One-77 is one of the fastest cars in the world with a top speed of 354km/h – about 100km/h more than most aircraft lift off the ground.
But 67-year-old semi-retired transport operator Frank Hillier didn’t get anywhere near that as he inched the $2 million handmade supercar into position for this year’s Australian International Motor Show, which opens in Sydney tomorrow.
Given that it’s the only car of its type in Australia – and one of 77 in the world – he was concentrating on not scraping the paintwork on the wall of glass that surrounds it on the stand.
“I always take my shoes off, but I leave my socks on,” says Hillier. “That way you don’t scuff the interior, plus it helps you make very small movements. You can feel the brake pedal better.
“The trouble with supercars is you can’t see out of them very well. The secret is you’ve got to be patient, and almost forget about how expensive the car is, so you don’t get flustered.”
The One-77 is a late surprise for the show, confirmed last Friday after the owner – who wishes to remain anonymous – agreed to put the car on display for 10 days.
Contrary to speculation, the Aston Martin is not owned by Melbourne-based transport magnate and car collector Lindsay Fox. The car is registered in Queensland.
“It’s not a household name, but a very passionate and generous car enthusiast,” said event director Russ Tyrie.
Meanwhile, over at the Mercedes stand, 23-year-old Nick White was manouvring a one-off convertible valued at $500,000 – a car he is not legally allowed to drive on the road because it is deemed too powerful for under-25s.
Indeed, the special $20,000 paintjob (with extra metallic flakes, it’s as sparkly as a dodgem car) is worth more than White’s car – a 2002 Holden Commodore sedan. “The boss wasn’t looking so I gave it a rev,” says White.
Not everything went according to plan on set-up day. While Jaguar was waiting for its new F-Type convertible to arrive (the spiritual successor to the classic E-Type) someone noticed a ding in the door of its new flagship sedan.
Dent-remover Stephen Jensen was called to the rescue and he had the blemish out in half an hour. “Normally I like the car to be undercover and in good light, so you can’t get any better than being under motor show lights,” he says.
On other stands, mechanics were jacking-up cars to ensure the logos in the centre of the wheels were straight. Multiply that by four – for each of the 400 cars on display – and you have an idea of the effort and attention to detail involved.
Some of the most unusual sights on set-up day were the rehearsals for the media preview, which opens on Thursday.
As Cirque du Soleil performers went through their routine for Nissan’s luxury brand Infiniti, balancing precariously on equipment wearing nothing more than lycra for protection, 50 dancers were forced to wear high visibility vests during their practice for the unveiling of the new Toyota Corolla. Occupational Health and Safety knows no bounds, not even artistic ones.
*The Australian International Motor Show, at the Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour, is open to the public from 10am Friday until 6pm Sunday 28 October.